After ten hours of travel—well , two hours from Denver to Atlanta, then eight hours of layover on Concourse E, we finally get to board our flight to Brasilia (an almost nine hour flight overnight) and it is entirely full, packed. There will be no stretching our here. In the early morning on the plane I look out the window to see the full moon I had seen in Colorado the night before only now it is from the other side. We arrive at the open-air Brasilia Terminal to find our Guide, Kelsie, awaiting us with bright red hair, shining eyes, and open arms; there is no mistaking her.
Who would have thought so long ago that we would be making this strange trip of healing and faith? In 1965 there was life and no death, there was no cancer; it was wide open—nothing could stop us. Nothing could affect us like it did everyone else. Ah, the things we did to those young bodies. What’s a little hangover? Just the price you pay for a good time. So what if our lungs felt like cobwebs were filling them after a long night of parties. Cigarettes were not addictive, the tobacco companies said so and we were not inclined to argue. Yah, but, we liked to smoke. We couldn’t and wouldn’t hear the voice of addiction speaking, whispering, cajoling, nagging and pleading.
When I started smoking, I was fourteen years old. My father, and that meant the whole family was stationed in London, England for four years. American cigarettes were sold at the Air Force Base exchange, the PX, were only 15 cents at the time (1960) and you could get your own ration card for ten cartons a month when you attained the lofty age of fifteen. That’s $1.50 per carton. Since I had already started smoking, I begged my parents to have one until they reluctantly said OK.
Do you think the tobacco companies had a plan? I assume today that they were trying to get as many young people hooked as they could. And it had been going on for a long, long time. Think of all those young servicemen away from home starting with WWII. What a huge potential market even after they got home.
I loved it, it made me feel so grown up and sophisticated, I was hooked almost before I finished my first pack and I did my best to smoke my whole ration. Fortunately no matter how hard I tried I was unable to do that. Some kids did learn to supplement their incomes by selling these coveted American cigarettes on the black market in England. I didn’t too much because I was too afraid I would get caught.
My point is—not only was I hooked/addicted to smoking/nicotine, I believed what the tobacco companies told us, which was essentially that smoking/nicotine was not addictive but actually might be good for you and that it made one look and act incredibly cool.
Of course, I found the love of my life. He smoked, drank, and liked various and sundry drugs and that became the focus of our life for the next 27 years until the self-imposed crisis in our life came crashing in to make us stop and consider for a moment what was going on. At first our attention in Recovery was on quitting alcohol and other mind-altering substances, but after three years in the program the thought came that maybe, just maybe the tobacco companies were lying, that we were in fact addicted to cigarettes and that they could cause cancer, lung cancer! It just seemed stupid to continue.
It took nearly a year before we thoroughly sick of it and were totally aware of how addicted we really were to this completely destructive substance. We signed up to go to a hypnotist along with seven-hundred other folks at a hotel ballroom north of Denver and it WORKED! Since January 1995 neither of us has had so much as a puff of a cigarette.
Still, the consequences showed up. March 2012 Bill was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. It started at that level with a metastasis to his brain in the form of a tumor the size of an egg on his optic nerve. Immediately that was followed by surgery to remove the tumor, whole brain radiation to get the smaller tumors lurking there, chemotherapy for the lung mass and more radiation to the lung. Over a year passed and it seemed like it was working until “they” told us there was nothing more that could be done by modern medicine, we had run its course, that Bill had maybe six months to live and we should sign up for hospice right now. But wait, there are two more chemo drugs that they could try that might extend his life for maybe two extra months at cost of feeling terrible. Woohoo, Let’s jump on that! Bill said no thanks, please take the chemo port and filter from my body and we will try somewhere else or die with dignity.
As we left the oncologist’s office, we sat in the parking lot, we clung to each other and cried. We were in total despair when the thought came: We are free, no longer tied to western medicine, this form that we have been so invested in; it hadn’t worked and couldn’t work any longer. The next thought was: Our friend had mentioned casually to us about John of God in Brazil about two months before and though we had poo-pooed it before, now it was time to look into it more. Next we went to the lumber yard to purchase wood for a table Bill wanted to build. Let’s get to work! We’ve got projects to create and finish! We left that parking lot filled with hope.
We started with a distant healing the very next week. We sent photos of ourselves via email to a person who would present them to John of God and send us the healing herbs he prescribed for us from Brazil. The healing started right then and Bill said he could feel the cancer stop. The next three weeks were a whirlwind of activity. We needed to get our passports and visas for Brazil. We found a guide to help us in Brazil, not only with a place to stay and the Brasilian culture, but to help with protocol at “The Casa”, John of God’s place of healing in Abadiania.
How did we choose a guide? I printed out three resumes from the internet of people willing to offer their services; we looked at them and Bill put his hand on Kelsie Kenefick, John of God Boulder—simple as that.
So here we are, in Abadiania, Brazil, ready for two weeks of a completely new healing experience. Nothing is wrong, everything is right. We are healing. Bill is healing. This life is truly the great adventure!